Don’t Let Security be an Afterthought in Digital Transformation

padlockCompanies are doubling down on the bet that digital transformation will be the key to surviving and thriving in a connected global economy. The number of enterprises with advanced digital transformation initiatives will more than double – to 50% – by the year 2020.

But one crucial aspect of this trend is being left behind: Security.

Dimensional Research surveyed 631 IT decision-makers from companies with 1,000+ employees to explore security’s place in digital transformation.  The study confirmed that digital transformation is underway. 97% of respondents answered that they are investing in IoT, mobile, cloud infrastructure, and cloud applications. 27% described their organization as “in the middle of digital transformation”, while 50% thought it was happening in their organization.

All of the respondents listed security as one of their major responsibilities. 76 percent felt their security teams were either brought into transformation projects too late to have an impact or were bypassed entirely. 85% of respondents said business users perceive security as a barrier to digital transformation, making it an afterthought – despite a constantly evolving threat landscape where data breaches and ransomware attacks have become routine.

Why has security become an afterthought?

There is a long standing perception that security is important, unless it inhibits users’ ability to get work done. Take that thought one step further and many organizations may fear that security might slow down or even block their digital initiatives.

Securing digital technologies requires a different approach. In addition to changing users’ view of security, respondents cited a number of other challenges:

  • 69 percent say they need to secure additional technologies without additional resources.
  • 59 percent say mobile, IoT, cloud and self-service initiatives post an increased risk of security breach.
  • 52 percent say it’s hard to find the right balance between security and employee productivity.
  • 38 percent say those initiatives give the organization less control over data and systems access.
  • 30 percent say it’s difficult to find expertise to support new technologies.
  • 19 percent say their security tools have not kept up with changing needs.
  • 17 percent say they have a siloed security toolset, which makes them more vulnerable.

Security as an enabler of digital transformation

The good news: 85% percent of respondents feel that the security function can be an enabler for digital transformation. The key is to address the perception of security being a roadblock. The study demonstrates a need for CIOs and CISOs to position themselves in the digital transformation discussion at the highest, most strategic levels, or risk irrelevancy. IT leadership needs to play a more active role earlier in the process. If there is a need, engage a partner that can help fill some of the gaps mentioned above.  When addressed in a well thought out and outcome-driven approach, security can help organizations more quickly integrate new technologies that truly transform business – creating new revenue opportunities and changing the way they engage customers.

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